Once, a long, long time ago, I embarked on a project called Vintage Recipes. Remember? You probably don't, and that's OK because it sure looks like I didn't either. But I'm finally getting a start and looking forward to finding some unexpected keepers.
What's my idea for this project? First step, to interpret and flesh out the recipes. Some of them are very bare bones with obscure ingredients and directions. I figure I'll follow the recipe with only minimal, if any, adjustments; then, if it seems to hold promise, I'll gradually fine tune it into a recipe I'll save forever.
Up first: Blitz Kuchen. Lightning cake. Sounds like my kind of thing. From just a glance at the ingredients I knew not to expect anything wild and crazy, but that was fine by me because simple and basic often produce classic, winning results (like my favorite scone and sugar cookie recipes).
You can see above that the instructions are a little vague - no precise oven temperature, no pan size, few details - but all in all it seemed fairly straightforward. I don't use shortening in baking so I used butter. The only nuts I had on hand were raw almonds, so I toasted those in a 350 oven for about 8 minutes then chopped them coarsely. I added 3/4 tsp salt to the dry ingredients and 1 tsp each of vanilla and almond extract to the milk/egg white mixture. 350 is pretty standard for baking, and the batter seemed about right for a 9x9 inch square pan. The 1/2 cup brown sugar seemed a bit much for that size, though, so I reduced it to 1/3 cup. The cake baked up somewhere between 45 and 50 minutes.
The result? A surprisingly lofty cake with a tender crumb, good buttery cake flavor, and delightfully crunchy topping. The cake was very tall in the center so I suspect I got the pan size wrong. Next time I will bake it in a 9x13 pan at 350 - I imagine the time will be reduced to closer to 30 minutes or so.
Would I make it again? Sure! While I don't consider any cake that requires creaming butter to be "lightning" fast (that seems a better descriptor for oil based cake), it required no frosting and so was a relatively quick and no-fuss weekday dessert. These basic kind of cakes can be dressed up with fresh fruits, whipped cream, sauces, or ice cream, making them really versatile. Maybe I'd even play around with adding some fruit, citrus zest, or chocolate chips to the batter. It's good for a crowd and delicious for breakfast. What more can you ask for?
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (12 tbsp/6 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup milk, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond extract (optional)
3/4 cup brown sugar (or less, if desired)
1/2 cup nuts, chopped coarse
Preheat oven to 350. If you have unroasted nuts, toast them in the oven for 8 minutes or until toasty and fragrant. Cool. Chop coarsely and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk egg whites very thoroughly. Add milk and extracts and whisk well to combine.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium high. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating until combined.
On low, add dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with half of the milk mixture. Beat only until just combined.
Pour batter into a greased 13x9 pan. Sprinkle the nuts and brown sugar evenly over the batter.
Bake 30-45 minutes. ( I realize that is a very imprecise time frame. I baked it in a 9x9 and it took almost 50 minutes. I imagine the bigger pan will reduce the time but I'm not sure by how much. Start with 30 minutes and check every few minutes after that until tester comes out clean. Or just use a 9x9 if a high cake to topping ratio sounds better to you.)
Serve with whipped cream and fruit, or ice cream, or just plain!